Hi all, i've posted this question at the general chemistry board, but i see there's a thorough discussion on the rate constant here, so i hope you all can help me.

I have one question to ask. This might sound trivial to some, but i really would like to know the qualitative significance of the value of rate coefficient, k, in the chemical rate equation. I know all the stuff about how k depends on temperature and all, i just want to know what does its value symbolize/signifies in the reaction (explaination in a plain English, not in equation whatsoever).

Let say i have a multistep reaction (numerous reactions going on in one-pot), i did the kinetic experiments, throw in the data in matlab for some curve fittings and finally i get all the kinetic parameters (k1, k2, k3, k4...kn) for each step in the multistep reaction. So how do i interpret qualitatively the meaning behind all those k i obtained? How do i compare the reaction rate between each (assumed) elementary step by using the k data i obtained? what does a large k value symbolize and what does a small k value symbolyze? Does a larger k value always mean a higher rate of reaction? if k2 is larger than k1, does this means that R2 is higher than R1? the unit for k is different, depending on the overall order of each elementary reaction. So how do i compare rate constants for different reaction orders for each elementary step?

I've been searching everywhere for the true significance of this k, because i don't really understand its impact on the reaction rate. I feel like a robot who only knows how to calculate the data without actually knowing what or why i'm calculating it, or how to analyze it.

Thank you in advance for anyone who is willing to share their knowledge. I would appreciate too if you could direct me to any references you found helpful pertaining to this.

btw, i'm a new MSc. in Chemical Engineering student, assigned a topic on the kinetic modelling of a newly synthesized product produced through a multistep reaction. I did not willingly choose this topic, so it's kinda quite hard for me to fully understand it. Please bear my limited knowledge on this.